Skipping nonsense to maintain function: the paradigm of BRCA2 exon 12.

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Date publication

février 2020


Cancer research


Membres identifiés du Cancéropôle Est :

Tous les auteurs :
Meulemans L, Mesman RLS, Caputo SM, Krieger S, Guillaud-Bataille M, Caux-Moncoutier V, Léone M, Boutry-Kryza N, Sokolowska J, Révillion F, Delnatte C, Tubeuf H, Soukarieh O, Bonnet-Dorion F, Guibert V, Bronner M, Bourdon V, Lizard S, Vilquin P, Privat M, Drouet A, Grout C, Calléja FMGR, Golmard L, Vrieling H, Stoppa-Lyonnet D, Houdayer C, Frebourg T, Vreeswijk MPG, Martins A, Gaildrat P


Germline nonsense and canonical splice site variants identified in disease-causing genes are generally considered as loss-of-function (LoF) alleles and classified as pathogenic. However, a fraction of such variants could maintain function through their impact on RNA splicing. To test this hypothesis, we used the alternatively spliced BRCA2 exon 12 (E12) as a model system since its in-frame skipping leads to a potentially functional protein. All E12 variants corresponding to putative LoF variants or predicted to alter splicing (n=40) were selected from human variation databases and characterized for their impact on splicing in minigene assays and, when available, in patient lymphoblastoid cell lines. Moreover, a selection of variants was analyzed in a mouse embryonic stem cell-based functional assay. Using these complementary approaches, we demonstrate that a subset of variants, including nonsense variants, induced in-frame E12 skipping through the modification of splice sites or regulatory elements and, consequently, led to an internally deleted but partially functional protein. These data provide evidence for the first time in a cancer-predisposition gene, that certain presumed null variants can retain function due to their impact on splicing. Further studies are required to estimate cancer-risk associated with these hypomorphic variants. More generally, our findings highlight the need to exercise caution in the interpretation of putative LoF variants susceptible to induce in-frame splicing modifications.


Cancer Res.. 2020 Feb 11;: